Dave and I are on a 10-day vacation, so I am NOT going to gripe. Truth be told, I would be hard-pressed to gripe when I am sitting on our patio at our resort on Maui, watching waves crash and choosing to stare at monk seals, sea turtles or the beautiful mountain-island of Lanai. It is, however, easy to armchair quarterback what happens in organizations about which you know nothing about except being a consumer...or in this next case, a traveler. While Dave checked meticulously to ensure our credit cards allowed for us to each check a complimentary bag (one of which is filled with my clothes, and one is filled with...oh never mind, most of you know Dave already. You know it's his golf clubs. Silly me), apparently the "fine print" (which now means a magnifying class is a must for the reading of said print) states that you must pay for the ticket with that credit card. "But how could we pay for the ticket with the credit card," Dave calmly asked at the ticket counter, "when we used miles to 'pay' for our tickets?". "Sorry!" was the answer we got, to which I always am tempted to say, "Are you REALLY sorry? I'm guessing not." No matter. We asked to talk to a supervisor, who said, "Oh no, we can waive the baggage fee as long as you booked the $5 service fee for the ticket with this credit c.... oh, no, I see you did not. I'm sorry." Wait, what? We were supposed to pay a $5 fee with this very credit card to get the free bag? Dave, who makes me laugh anyway, suggested they charge our credit card $5 presently, and then Voila! the fee should be able to be waived. Nope. A big fat NOPE! But we did get a "Sorry!" No matter. We are on vacation, after all. Paying baggage fees for his precious golf cargo and my two or three or 8 pairs of shoes will not dampen our spirits.
No, that didn't happen until we island-hopped from Oahu to Maui and found the line to simply get on the shuttle bus to get to the rental car facility was longer than a line would be at an Apple store when a new iteration of i-phone comes out. That is when, instead of getting frustrated (after all, we really ARE on vacation), we began coming up with ways to improve the logistics of the airport and the rental car organization.
"You know, if they cut out a u-shape here, they could allow the rental car bus to pull around instead of having to back up, which is NOT efficient."
"They should have a roped off area, so people know where the line starts"
"Wouldn't it be easier to have all rental car properties on-site?"
Again, lots of armchair quarterbacking going on, realizing that we are on the islands during lots of peoples' spring breaks.
I am currently teaching several courses in Educational Leadership for Grand Canyon University. One of them is a course in preparing students for the real world of school leadership. In our textbook, Capasso and Daresh (2001, p. 6) say, "...leaders must be individuals who define their role through the eyes of their followers". I couldn't help but think of the parallel universe going on in my own world this week---one of professor and one of consumer. The first is teaching master's level students about how to effectively help schools run as a well-oiled machine; understanding the importance of building of relationships; recognizing that people who complain are often just tired and want their questions answered; and agreeing that all stakeholders are so integral to the process. The same goes for any organization, whether it is the airline with whom you are flying (or with whom you might be frustrated by a seemingly empty-sounding "sorry!") or the car rental company from whom you are trying to rent a vehicle that will fit all your luggage you are trying to cram into it.
Our textbook for this course asks the students (and I'm doing it, too) to think about the characteristics that embody an effective leader---is it someone who is good with organizational skills, a real relationship-builder, a motivational speaker, a leader who reads and can relay pertinent research studies that help constituents understand the what, why, and how some particular strategies work better than others, or is it something that is more elusive? Something you can't quite put your finger on or name, but you know it when you see it?
Just for today, I pray that you have experiences with people, leaders, and organizations that exude that effectiveness. And, if you don't, "Sorry!" :)
Capasso, Ronald L., and John C. Daresh. 2001. The School Administrator Internship Handbook Leading, Mentoring, and Participating in the Internship Program. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.